Inboard hydroplane racing has undergone a
transformation since the introduction of the safety capsule about 15
years ago. Prior to that, drivers wore a life jacket and
helmet. The drivers did not wear any kind of seat belts or
other restraints, so they were often thrown out of boat into the
water when things went wrong. Some boats were equipped with
string attached between the driver and a kill switch, which would
kill the motor when the driver was thrown out of the boat.
Currently, drivers are encased in a protective
safety capsule made of a Kevlar composite material that is almost
impenetrable. They wear a helmet and flack suit
providing additional protection to the torso. Drivers are
restrained with a 5 point safety harness like those used in other
Although not required, many boats are equipped
with additional safety equipment:
- Shroud or canopy covering the cockpit
- Air supply and breathing mask that is worn
throughout the race
- Cockpit radio systems
These changes have made a tremendous difference in
terms of reducing injuries and almost eliminating fatalities.
The sport has changed so much that many who retired from racing
prior to these improvements are returning to the sport. Many
of the drivers today are the children and grandchildren of those
returning since the vast improvement in the safety of inboard
Whenever there is a driver is in the water or
otherwise in trouble, there are highly trained rescue personnel.
The are very effective at attending to such a driver within
literally a few seconds. There are rescue teams strategically
located on the course at all times the boats are on the race course.